The key things to do once you've completed clear aligner treatment
Once you’ve finished wearing clear aligners and your teeth straightening treatment is complete, there are several important things to do if you want to maintain your new smile.
Looking after your teeth is important, so you can be proud of the way they look and protect them from future damage.
Can teeth move back once treatment has finished?
Teeth can move back once treatment has finished. Despite all your hard work, teeth have a natural position that they can return to and the chance of this happening increases with age. You can reduce the risk of your teeth shifting back by wearing retainers after treatment.
Most providers of dental aligners will have the option to purchase retainers. These will be an ongoing cost to maintain the results of your treatment. Typically, retainers cost around £200 each year.
To maximise efficiency and stay on top of hygiene, you should replace your retainers roughly every six months. Immediately after treatment, wear them day and night just like a final set of aligners. After a few weeks, you can move to just wearing retainers as you sleep. It’s an easy habit to get into, though you could end up filled with regret if you try to skip this important step. It’s rare to find a clear aligner provider that offers a lifetime guarantee!
How should you brush your teeth?
During treatment, you probably got used to brushing several times a day. You needed to brush after every meal, and after each drink that wasn’t water. Now that your treatment is complete, you can go back to twice-a-day brushing.
Brush your teeth just like you did before your treatment began. Brush once in the morning and once just before bed, right before inserting your retainers.
Can you use teeth whitening products?
Many people find that after working so hard to get the straight smile they’ve always wanted, they’re still not completely happy because of the stains on their teeth. Teeth whitening products can be the final piece of that ‘perfect smile’ puzzle.
As long as you use a reputable provider and a well-known and trusted product, there’s no reason to avoid teeth whitening after your treatment is complete. Making your teeth a few shades whiter could bring you even more confidence.
Many providers of clear aligners also offer teeth whitening products. There’s a chance that you received one as a free gift as part of your treatment plan. Just make sure you follow the instructions very carefully.
What about regular dental checkups?
Your dentist will tell you how often you should visit them for checkups. As well as keeping all checkup appointments during your clear aligner treatment, it’s very important to keep going for these after your treatment is complete.
Dental checkups are a chance to get support with existing dental conditions. They’re also a chance to get an early warning about anything that might be developing. Dentists can help you reduce your risk of cavities, as well as providing essential treatment if a cavity’s already developed.
As you get older, dental care becomes even more important. Adult teeth, that might have been in your mouth when you were just five years old, are the same teeth that need to last long into adulthood. Ideally, they’ll be there right until the very end. Unfortunately, gums recede as they age and teeth have put up with more wear and tear, so if you want to maintain your new smile then you’ll need to actually work at it. Ignoring your dental needs is a fast-track to disappointment.
Most dentists will want to see patients every 6-12 months for a checkup. You may be invited more often if developing conditions must be monitored, or slightly less often if you’ve proven that you really look after your teeth.
What kind of toothbrush should you use?
There isn’t a specific toothbrush to use after your teeth straightening treatment. Just make sure that you’ve chosen a toothbrush that will do a good job cleaning your teeth. You can browse toothbrush reviews if you’re not happy with your current one.
Some of the best toothbrushes are electric brushes with round, oscillating heads. These are great at brushing all parts of the tooth and fitting right to the back of your mouth. The oscillating movements can be more effective than with a sonic toothbrush.
You don’t necessarily need a toothbrush with a lot of extra features. Many features are nice to have, but not essential for brushing your teeth. It doesn’t cost a lot to find a great toothbrush that’ll help with your dental care routine.
What if your teeth move back?
Accidents can happen, and sometimes teeth move a bit even with the most attentive care. Check if your clear aligner provider offers any form of guarantee. If not, you may need to go through another treatment plan. If you need to try again, you can choose the same or different provider. There’s no need to stay loyal to one company, and you might decide that a different approach to teeth straightening will suit you better.
Your teeth shouldn’t move all the way back to their original positions, so even if they shift a little there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s very likely that your smile will still look much straighter than when you first started your treatment.
Assuming that your teeth haven’t moved too much, start using your retainers if you have some. Your retainers are designed for your final smile, so they may help to move your teeth back if they’ve only just started shifting. Expect a little discomfort during this process.
You can also consider reusing old aligners if you’ve kept these somewhere safe, though it’s important to remember that each set of aligners was very slightly different from the last. Your teeth may have moved to whole new positions that they’ve never been in before, so you might find that your custom aligners no longer fit like they used to.
You can always seek advice as an ex-customer of any provider that you used. Many will be happy to help, and may be able to charge you less for a short course of realignment treatment.